Me'ir Nativ: The first Hebrew concordance of the Bible and Jewish Bible study in the fifteenth century, in the context of Jewish-Christian polemics

Ram Ben-Shalom*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

The first Hebrew concordance, known as Me'ir Nativ, was written in the city of Arles, in Provence, between 1437 and 1447. Its author, Isaac Nathan, a prominent leader of Provençal Jewry, devoted immense efforts-money, time and thought-to the project. A critical examination of Nathan's preface to the concordance reveals that he had two main goals in creating this important tool: facilitating religious polemics with Christians and encouraging Bible study in Jewish society. Here these two phenomena are analyzed in their historical and geographical context. Because of the concordance's polemical purpose, Nathan adopted the Christian division of the Bible into books and chapters. His decision afforded the Christian system a certain legitimacy that contributed to its adoption (through the publication of Miqra'ot Gedolot) in Hebrew Bibles published to this day. Isaac Nathan was probably the first Jewish scholar to give serious consideration to Christian interpretations of Scripture and to include those he found compelling in his Hebrew work. The preface to Me'ir Nativ is heavily influenced by the Scholastics, particularly Thomas Aquinas. In his adoption of the scholastic approach Nathan resembled other fifteenth-century Jewish thinkers, especially in Catalonia and Aragon.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)289-364
Number of pages76
JournalAleph
Volume11
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2011

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